Colombia: The Perfect 4 Weeks Itinerary

Planning your trip to Colombia? Get inspired by our perfect four weeks itinerary.
 

Creating an ultimate itinerary for a country you've never visited can be challenging. We traveled around Colombia for two months, and now we know the best places where to go and which places are better to skip. Get inspired by our perfect 4-weeks itinerary and enjoy your travels in Colombia.


Colombia is a diverse country. From paradise beaches, mountainous peaks, volcanoes, hilly landscapes, colonial cities, archeological gems, red-hot deserts to famous Colombian coffee, the country has so much to offer that you probably won't be able to take everything in during only one visit.

But with our itinerary, you will get the sample of the best places Colombia has to offer.

When traveling in Colombia, you must take into account, that distances between cities are very often vast and it takes time to get from one place to another when traveling by bus.

Some of the roads are unpaved, or they very often wind through the Andes and moreover Colombia as a country is right now in the middle of their infrastructure revolution, it means that there are many reconstructions along the road which can slow down your travels as well. Our average speed by bus was less than 40 km/h which is overkill. Generally, always count with two hours delay to be safe and on schedule.

The overall safety in Colombia has improved vastly, but still, we recommend to travel during the day if possible and in the cities rather take a taxi.

We tried our best to squeeze all must-visit places into our itinerary, so now, we can only wish you to enjoy your travels!


DAY 1 & 2 & 3: BOGOTA

Bogota, Colombia's capital, is a great place where to start getting to know the country.

We recommend to explore Museo del Oro the first day and then walk around Candelaria. The second day, take a free walking tour around Bogota. It is a perfect way how to know history and thoughts of locals better. After, have a coffee and go to the Emerald Museum. The third day, it is time to climb up the Cerro de Monserrate (or take cable car) to get better views of Bogota.

Later, you can visit some of the museums in the city on own, watch street performers or look for interesting graffiti on the walls.

Beware of pickpockets, especially on the crowded Carrera 7. To stay safe, make sure you read our highly informative article How To Stay Safe in Central America. Most of the areas in Bogota are save, the most recommended departments to stay are La Candelaria, Chapinero, Zona Rosa or Zona T.

For more information, check our guide Bogota: the Colombia's capital.

WHERE TO STAY IN BOGOTA

Budget: Hotel San Francisco de Asís | Mid-range: Hotel Ibis Bogota Museo | Luxury: Radisson AR Bogota Airport

Bogota, Colombia's capital, is a great place where to start getting to know the country.

DAY 4 & 5: VILLA DE LEYVA

Only four hours by bus from Bogota lies colonial town, Villa de Leyva.

You can find here colonial architecture, one of the biggest squares in South America and the surroundings is just stunning. The other day, you can take a taxi and explore other features in the proximity of Villa de Leyva - Pozos Azules, El Fosil, Convento del Santo Ecce Hommo and El Infiernito.

WHERE TO STAY IN VILLA DE LEYVA

Budget: Hostal Everest | Mid-range: Villa Gaddiel | Luxury: Hotel Antonio Nariño

Only four hours by bus from Bogota lies colonial town, Villa de Leyva.

DAY 6 & 7: SAN GIL & BARICHARA

To get to San Gil, we recommend not to take the bus route we did via Arabuco.

From Villa de Leyva take the bus back to Tunja and here switch to a direct bus to San Gil. San Gil is Colombia's adventure capital. Here, you can either do paragliding, rafting, downhill biking, or for not adventurous souls there is an option to explore El Gallineral Natural Park in the heart of San Gil.

Next day, take a short bus ride to another colonial town, Barichara.

Strolling around pretty clean streets is welcoming after spending yesterday's night in busy San Gil. We recommend to take a short downhill hike (about 2 hours) to even smaller settlement Guane via traditional route El Camino Real, from Guane, take a jeep back to Barichara and eventually a bus to San Gil.

Where To Stay In San Gil

BUDGET: Bacaregua Hostel | MID-RANGE: Hotel Campestre Casona del Camino Real | LUXURY: Hotel Alejandria Resort

Colonial town of Barichara is a great one day trip from Colombia’s adventure and adrenaline capital San Gil city.

DAY 8: SANTA MARTA

From San Gil, you can either take a bus to Cartagena, but to us, it made more sense to get to Santa Marta First.

You can take a night bus from San Gil to Santa Marta, and although it is going to be a long drive, you will save some time and money for tonight's accommodation.

Santa Marta is not an appealing city, and city beaches are rather ugly, but it is a place from where you will get to Tayrona National Park, you can store some of your stuff you don't need in a hotel and also buy some food and drinks in case you want to save some money.

Where To Stay In Santa Marta

BUDGET: El Hostal de Jackie | MID-RANGE: Masaya Hostel Santa Marta | LUXURY: Hotel Suite Boutique El Cactus

Santa Marta is not an appealing city, and city beaches are rather ugly.

DAY 9 & 10 & 11: TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK

From Santa Marta, take a regular bus to the borders of Tayrona National Park.

You can visit the park only on a one day trip, however we think it would be a shame as we rank Tayrona really high among the places we've visited in Colombia. You can relax on pristine beaches, try to spot rare animals in the jungle or do treks to some of the most important archeological sites.

All in once, we found Tayrona National Park just stunning.

Read our Tayrona NP Ultimate Guide before you go.

Make sure that in the peak season you buy your park permit in advance and also do not forget, that park closes its gate from late January throughout February to gain back sustainability.

Where To Stay In Tayrona National Park

BUDGET: Eco Hostal Yuluka | MID-RANGE: Playa Brava Teyumakke | LUXURY: Casa Tayrona Los Naranjos

Tayrona National Park offers sandy beaches, snorkeling ang great jungle hiking.

DAY 12 & 13: CARTAGENA DE INDIAS

A four hours drive will take you to one of the most important cities in Colombia, known in the colonial era as Cartagena de Indias.

The walled city is amazing and it is a place where you can easily spend days, what we liked the most were strikingly colorful colonial buildings. Apart from that, you should also visit the famous fort Castillo San Felipe de Barajas or lesser-known Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.

We also took some great pictures in Cartagena for inspiration!

WHERE TO STAY IN CARTAGENA

Budget: Hotel La Magdalena | Mid-range: Casa Santa Ana Boutique Almirante | Luxury: Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena

Cartagena on the north of Colombia is a beautiful city attracting thousands of travelers every year.

DAY 14 &15: MEDELLIN & GUATAPE

Another overnight bus will take you to Medellin, a city with a troubled past and although the city is not somehow beautiful, it is a must-stop when in Colombia.

Take a free walking tour to get a sense of the place, use a cable car to Arvi Park (or Comuna 13 if you want) and if there is one museum in Medellin you should visit it should be Museo de la Memoria.

A worthwhile one day trip from Medellin is visiting the colorful town of Guatape and one of the world's largest monoliths Piedra del Penol overlooking flooded dam.

WHERE TO STAY IN MEDELLIN

Budget: The Garden of Blues Hostel | Mid-range: Los Patios Hostal Boutique | Luxury: Hotel Dann Carlton Medellín

Visiting Medellin while traveling Colombia is a must and we couldn’t miss the city in our itinerary.

DAY 16: JARDIN

A laidback town, 4 hours from Medellin became our Colombia's favorite. Not advertised in guidebooks, but maybe thanks to it the town has a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere.

Drink coffee on the main square, stroll colorful streets, take the cable car to get some stunning views, hike in the nearby hills on own or go birdwatching. We hope you will enjoy Jardin as we did.

WHERE TO STAY IN JARDIN

Budget: Hostal Palo de Rosa | Mid-range: Hotel Kantarrana Urbana Jardin | Luxury: Casa Passiflora Hotel Boutique

Jardin is one of the most beautiful and colorful towns in Colombia.

DAY 17 & 18: SALENTO

From Jardin, it is about 8 hours to get to Salento, a small town in Zona Cafetera. If you start early, you should be able to visit a coffee farm after your arrival.

The next day, head to Valle de Cocora, where you can do a five-hour hike through a forest and valley with tall wax palms, national trees of Colombia.

WHERE TO STAY IN SALENTO

Budget: Hostal Vista Hermosa | Mid-range: Casa de las Dos Palmas | Luxury: Hostal Casa de Los Taitas

The Cocora Valley hike in Salento, Colombia is famous for its wax palms and stunning views.

DAY 19 - 22: LOS NEVADOS NATIONAL PARK

We must admit, that before we traveled to Colombia, we never heard about this National Park.

Yet, we consider it a dark horse and will recommend it to everyone all over again. You don't need to do the long four-days hike as we did (one, two, or three days available), but if time allows, we strongly encourage you to do it.

And what can you look forward to? Paramo ecosystem, mountains, volcanoes, and glaciers to name a few.

Los Nevados National Park offers great hiking through Paramo ecosystem.

DAY 23: MANIZALES

Because your trek finished in Manizales, take one day off here as Manizales is a pretty city with beautiful surroundings.

You can either relax here or take a one-day trek to the nearby hills if you don't have enough (you can book a tour which suits your need in every hotel in the city).

Manizales might not be the most visited city in Colombia by travelers, but there's so much to see and do.

DAY 24: MANIZALES - NEIVA - TATACOA DESERT

Leave Manizales and head to Neiva and if possible jump on a jeep and get to Tatacoa Desert the same day.

The Tatacoa Desert in Colombia is a popular destination for travellers featuring desert landscapes, incredible stargazing, and isolation.

DAY 25: TATACOA DESERT

Tatacoa desert is the second largest desert in Colombia (the largest one is far north, and it is a bit complicated to reach it).

Although it is not technically desert, it definitely feels as it was. Take a hike in the red desert, grey desert (where you can also take a dip in an artificial swimming pool) and in the evening, go stargazing.

Where To Stay In Villavieja

BUDGET: Hostal Villa Cecilia | MID-RANGE: Hotel Colonial Villavieja | MID-RANGE: El Peñon De Constantino

Tatacoa desert is the second largest desert in Colombia.

DAY 26 & 27: SAN AGUSTIN

San Agustin is one of the most important archeological sites in Colombia.

Visit the Archeological Park on the day of your arrival to the town, and the other day, you can either take a horseback riding tour around the town with some notable stops or take a jeep tour to see waterfalls and statues around San Agustin.

WHERE TO STAY IN SAN AGUSTIN

Budget: Hotel La Gaitana | Mid-range: Masaya Hostel San Agustin | Luxury: Monasterio San Agustín

San Agustin is one of the most important archeological sites in Colombia.

DAY 28: BOGOTA

Take an overnight bus to Bogota (from San Agustin, you must get to Pitalito first).

Here, your journey of exploring Colombia ends.

Or not.

As in our case we continued our travels to Ecuador.

Colombia is a beautiful country, and we hope our itinerary will help you with your travels.


WHAT TO PACK FOR TRAVELING IN COLOMBIA

We've created an ultimate packing list for South America, but here are five essential things you should pack with you for Colombia.

  • GoPro | Colombia is a country where you can try many outdoor activities, so we would opt for an adventure camera to capture all your memories without being worried to break it.

  • Fleece Jacket for Him & for Her | You can experience hot and humid, but also extremely cold climate in Colombia, come well prepared.

  • Swimsuit for Him & for Her | It would be a shame to completely miss out the opportunity to swim in Colombia.

  • Hiking Boots for Him & for Her | We cannot recommend you enough to do some hiking in Colombia - pack quality and waterproof hiking shoes.

  • Sunscreen | Sun protection is necessary in every country in South America.



TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE

We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.

Travel smarter and safer!


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